Since the residents of Griffith are all too familiar with trains tying up downtown Griffith's roadways, five years ago they turned the situation into a celebration. Now for four days over Labor Day Weekend, the intersections are blocked intentionally as the town hosts the Rock 'N' Rails Festival.
The festival this year features 20 live bands on two stages, over 30 food vendors offering up lots of tasty options (sirloin tips, shishkabobs, sausage, pretzels, pierogi, chicken & noodles, burgers, hot dogs and plenty more), a variety of cold brews, and dancing in the streets, literally.
This is the one time every year, one does not hear local folks complaining about not being able to travel through the intersection at Main and Broad Streets. The fest runs the length of Broad Street which is closed for the duration from Lake Street to Main Street. Visitors can leave their cars at St. Mary Church Hildebrandt Hall, (525 N. Broad St.) and can hop a free shuttle bus or walk the 1/2 mile distance to the downtown festivities.
The daily "Bar Stage" features multiple sets of music by the same artist each day. This year's roster has The Rak Brothers on Thursday, I'm With Frank on Friday, Chicago Dueling Pianos on Saturday and The Jim Bulanda Ensemble on Sunday. The sole exception to the same band schedule is a special 9:30 p.m. performance by country singer Jason Jakes on Sunday.
The Main Stage music, located in the Family Beer Garden starts this afternoon at 5 p.m. when The Wise Guys kicks off this season's end of summer gala with classic rock and blues. Following at 6:30 p.m. is a salute to the 1950s and 1960s with The Neverly Brothers trio, followed by Beatles tribute, American English, who headline opening night for the third year as they twist 'n' shout at 8:30 p.m.
Friday's Main Stage line-up is back to back classic rock that opens at 5 p.m. with classic rock covers by Got Issues, and is followed by three tribute acts Bonfire (AC/DC) at 6 p.m., Kashmir (Led Zeppelin) at 7:30 p.m. and Echoes of Pompei (Pink Floyd) at 9:30 p.m., each doing 90-minute sets.
Saturday's Main Stage continues with more non-stop classic rock starting at Noon with hour-long sets (in order) by The Darkhorse Band, The Underground Prophets, Pandora Rocks, Guitar Band Blues and The Susan Williams Band. Evening headliners play 90-minute sets and are all tribute groups -- Old Friends (Simon & Garfunkel) at 6 p.m., A1A Band (Jimmy Buffett) at 8 p.m., and Hot Rocks (Rolling Stones) at 10:30 p.m.
Sunday's live performances on the Main Stage mix up the genres a bit more than previous days, starting with a 1 p.m. set by The NWI Youth Orchestra, a polka party with The Polka Generation Band at 2:30 p.m., Americana rock by Nicole Jamrose Band at 4 p.m., the Denny Diamond Band (Neil Diamond tribute), and country acts The Ronnie C. Band at 8 p.m., followed by High Noon at 10 p.m..
A full printable entertainment schedule, list of vendors and assorted "Do's and Don'ts" is found online at: rocknrailfest.com. More at: griffith.in.gov or 219- 924-7500.